U.S. MNT vs. Ukraine
Post-Match Quotes – March 5, 2014
U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann
On the match:
“First of all, we want to give a big thank you to the Ukraine Football Federation and also the Federation of Cyprus for making this game possible. They really deserve a big compliment for making this happen with everything being very hectic these last few days with everybody involved. We are very glad we were able to get it done and have the opportunity to play this match tonight. On top of that, congratulations to the Ukraine for this 2-0 win.
“We were so wishful to get this game because there are things that otherwise we wouldn’t have seen. Taking this game helped us a lot to see where individual players are, collectively where we stand at with this group of players. We had to start a couple new things. We had a backline that never really played together before, and you could see they never played together that much.
“For us it was very good and again, a big thanks to the Ukraine and Cyprus for making this game possible and we’ll take a lot of points with us.”
On the play of the defense
“Once you watch the game again on tape and see the mistakes we made, especially with the two goals, there’s a series of mistakes that happened there. In the second half, the first 20 minutes, we looked good – we pushed it, we had opportunities to score. If we get a goal there, the whole game could turn around in our favor, but with the mistakes that happened prior to the second goal they basically closed it down.
“Standouts include, certainly, Tim Howard because he made a couple of good saves. Both goals happened on rebounds that he first saved. It was difficult for a lot of players to get into a rhythm, to stand out. It’s important for us to know where these players are at this specific point and we can give them a lot of good information for the next 10 weeks before we meet then for the preparation for the World Cup.”
On the positive take-aways from the match
“It would be totally wrong now to criticize what went wrong. It was clear to us that playing a completely new backline, playing players that come out of the club system, who are in a difficult situation not having the same confidence they usually have, there’s a lot of work to be done and a lot to build on. Still, we continue to get Anthony Brooks back in there, we see where he’s at, Geoff Cameron took the right back role and so on. Castillo flies all the way from Tijuana and played a decent game. You see individuals a lot in these type of matches, so it’s understandable that collectively, it’s not clicking. It would be a miracle if we had played well, still we need these games.”
On if the match was affected on the field by what is happening in Ukraine
“No, I don’t think that we felt affected. You watch TV and read the paper before the game, and through this whole build up you feel for this country, you feel for the nation more than wishing them well, but that all the issues resolve peacefully. This is certainly what we wish for them and what we pray for them. I told the players, [Ukraine] is a very good team. This is a team that barely missed out on the World Cup. They even had in France plenty of chances to put France out of this whole thing.
“One player that I’ve always admired stepped it up tonight, that is Anatoliy Tymoschuk. He’s a player you can see is on the Champions League level that we often talk about. He runs the show like a quarter back and gets everybody on the same page. Even if they’re not aware or alert, he wakes them up. It was impressive to see him in there tonight; it seems like he’s getting younger and younger.”
On only having one MLS player in the team and if that hurt the depth of the squad
“Definitely if you don’t have your main group together – and it’s a mix between MLS players, European players and Mexican players – then there’s a bit of drop in quality that’s just natural, it’s just normal. That’s why our job at the end of the day is to zoom in and name 23 guys who are up to the task for the World Cup. The more you go in an overall pool the more you see that a player like Tymoschuk, we still have a ways to go to get to a player at that level.
“But it was right to do it this way because flying over MLS players on Monday, playing on Wednesday night and flying back tomorrow is just too much. So we have to make those compromises and we are happy to make those compromises because it gives us the opportunity to see the European players here. The same with the Mexico game on April 2, we do it the other way around, we’ll be missing the players from Europe and they have the opportunity to show where they are at right now.
On the uncertainty of the game being played and if it was detrimental to the team’s preparation
“We took it in preparation the way that we will always go ahead with the game even if there was uncertainty, even if there was different messaging out there in the media. But, we prepared that game really well, so there’s no excuse about that.
On if Jozy Altidore’s fortunes at Sunderland are worrisome
“Well for every player you just wish they get into a rhythm. For a player who sits on the bench and doesn’t get the games he needs, also for a striker who needs opportunities to score goals when you go towards the biggest competition in the world, yes, you think about that. You hope that the situation he gets to play again, breaks in and scores goals. At the end of the day we can’t influence everyone’s situation on the club level. We can follow it, we can talk to the players, we can talk to the coaches as well, but at the end of the day the players have to solve it. It is very important that our players get into a rhythm for the next 10-12 weeks.”
On whether a match like this is good preparation for any of the teams the USA will face at the World Cup
“It’s definitely good for our full backs playing against high-caliber wingers and these two tonight are top class wingers. They showed that also in World Cup Qualifying, especially against France. So, every game you can have, in this case Ed Castillo and Geoff Cameron, has a lot of worth. This is what they take with them, if they go to the World Cup against another level. It will be very helpful.”